Monday 30 November 2020

Monday 30th November

 George E. Jackson sent me through this information on an e mail earlier on today...

"On Sunday morning, I saw a Treecreeper in Bridgend woods (Pat claims we [? she] saw one once before but I certainly don't remember it, so it's a new Islay tick for me)."

Ealier on this evening, when watching LANDWARD on the BBC channel, there was a feature about the grey seals down at St Abbs Head and who else was being interviewed but Ciaran Hatsell who previously worked on Fair Isle for a few years as an assistant to the warden at the Bird Obs there. Ciaran was over on Islay a few years ago on holiday, and we met up with him one day for some food down in the Port Charlotte Hotel along with Peter Roberts who once worked there, a good few years ago....

Sunday 29 November 2020

Sunday 29th November

Karen Graham from Bearsden was in touch to say that when her husband Ken was raking the leaves off their lawn this afternoon, that he was being watched by 2 foxes... No such joy of that happening on Islay as we do not have any foxes on Islay at all!!!

Saturday 28 November 2020

Saturday 28th November

This afternoon when speaking to our son Andrew, he happened to mention that he has not seen as many Goldfinches in at his feeders down in Clovenfords but plenty of Blue, Coal and also Great Tits along with the odd group of Long Tailed Tits seen regularly. He was wondering if by simply changing some of the food on offer, to which I replied "give it a go and see what happens.." So, next week or sometime after that, I will speak to Andrew again to see how things are on the bird feeder front, and I will keep you updated as well.

Friday 27 November 2020

Friday 27th November

 Apologies to Morven Laurie who I mentioned the other day that she and her team for which was previously  called SNH

Well,  the new name of SNH is NatureScot 

Thursday 26 November 2020

Thursday 26th November

Late last night, George E. Jackson sent me through the following sightings seen by him yesterday.. 

"The weather has been better today - saw some blue sky (though there was a rainbow in it!).

Walked at Loch Skerrols this morning - nothing unusual, but were about 25 Mute Swans, 12 Whoopers (definitely not mute, very noisy), 30 Wigeon, 8 Tufted Ducks, at least 1 Teal."

James today had been out and about on the reserve at Gruinart and had seen and counted the following birds...

"Lots of White tailed Eagles 5 at Gruinart today

Merlins 2

Hen Harrier 1 male

Sparrowhawk 1

Whooper Swan 7

Barnacle geese 10,825 that’s a lot

White fronts 303

Lapwing 335

Golden plover 1410

Linnet flock on the Ardnave road 240."

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Wednesday 25th November

James e mailed me through the following earlier on this evening..

"Slightly better weather today and a few birds:

3 White tailed Eagles on the salt marsh today

11 Whooper Swans

1 Merlin chasing a Dunlin way off up into the sky

3 Greenshank

13 Knot

1 Pale bellied Brent. "

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Tuesday 24th November

 Sorry folks, but I should have told you last night that there was/ will not be a meeting of the Islay bird nerds last night/ tonight because of the legislation that is still in place regarding folk meeting up together....

Monday 23 November 2020

Monday 23rd November

 Morven Laurie sent me though the figures of the geese counted last Tuesday and on Wednesday for the International Goose count, with the scores on the doors coming to 34,381 Barnies, 5,763 Whitefront and 1,354 Greylags. The Goose figures from last November came to 35,381 Barnies, 5,512 Whitefronts and 1,210 Greylags...

Many thanks to Morven and her team from Nature Scotland (SNH as it was once called) for sharing these figures with us. 

Sunday 22 November 2020

Sunday 22nd November

 The other day Peter had a walk round Loch Skerrols, "All counts were down on previous totals.

Whoopers were down to about 65; Wigeon at 80 and Tufted Duck at 75. 

There was a female Scaup which was a little unusual for Skerrols, but
no sign of the American Wigeon. "

Yesterday, Gary had been up at Bunnahabhain.. 
7 GND, 4 RBM, 20+ Shag, 1 Golden Eagle, 2 Crossbill, 4 Curlew, 17 Oystercatcher & 4 Otters. 
2 Whooper Swan were present on on Ardnahoe Loch."


Saturday 21 November 2020

Saturday 21st November

 Gary and Sam had carried out their WeBS count from Blackrock back round to Bowmore with the "Scores on the doors" coming to :

Great Northern Diver 1, Red breasted Merganser 10, Cormorant 3, Slavonian Grebe 1, Eider 4, Scaup 7, Mallard 74, Teal 69, Ringed Plover 47, Dunlin 2, Turnstone 13, Redshank 4, Oystercatcher 147, Curlew 17, Bar tailed Godwit 5, Grey Heron 2, Mute Swan 3, Knot 58, Black headed Gull 8, Common Gull 22, Herring Gull 9, Great black backed Gull 2, Little Egret 1, Brent Geese 43, Barnacle Geese 2, Greylag Geese 20. 

One of the Knot had an orange flag ring with the letters PEV on its left leg over a pale blue leg ring, it had a metal ring on its right leg. Checking with a ringer in Norway to see if it is one of his birds.

Up here at home this afternoon and Margaret saw 3 Gbb Gulls flying over the Machir.

Friday 20 November 2020

Friday 20th November

Good friend Karen Graham from Bearsden wrote the following e mail about the events seen by her in the garden...

"Very excited to see a Nuthatch on the willow picking up peanuts from around the squirrel feeder. Flies in and out to stash them away nearby.  A first in 36 years here  at the house. Did see a Tree Creeper yesterday afternoon too but it comes in fairly often. Apart from this usual suspects of blue, Coal and Great Tits, GS Woodpecker,  Dunnock, the trio of Magpies following the Squirrels including Stumpy (a squirrel), to see where they are burying nuts only for Magpies to dig up straight away. Now have 5 Blackbirds - 3 male and 2 female, odd chaffie, Wood pigeon and feral pigeons too and not forgetting the Robin. It's all go, and certainly an entertaining time at this time of year and in a level 4 area. Aha, a Starling now on the fat cake, so his pals will soon appear. No fox yet but he will drop in later for sure."

Earlier on this week, Lesley had carried out the WeBS count from Bowmore to Gartbreck when her birds counted were as follows:  12 Barwits, 21 Curlew, 6 Grey Heron, 35 Oystercatcher, 56 Ringed Plover, 4 Cormorant, 26 Shag, 157 Wigeon, 33 Mallard, 626 Barnies, 21 Eider, 5 Lt Duck, 17 RBM, 4 Sanderling, 1 Turnstone, 6 Redshank, 7 Scaup and 13 GND 

Gary today had seen a Little Egret around about "smelly corner" towards Whin Park along the merse there.

Thursday 19 November 2020

Thursday 19th November

Well, for one day at least it has stayed dry out on Islay, having said that, it was a bit on the cold side, at least we did not get any snow, I see that Fair Isle had its first fall earlier on today...

Up here at home, and when looking out of the window, mid morning, up high in the sky above the crag, we saw a pair of Golden Eagles out flying or rather soaring around... Great to see and watch!!!!

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Wednesday 18th November

 Luckily for me, James had sent me this through just recently

"Not the best of weather for bird watching –

Approx. 13,000 Barnies and 800 Whitefronts in Gruinart area (not just reserve)

Other birds:

Tues –

Merlin up at  Ardnave

Otter over at Killinallan (I know its not a bird)

Wed –

Merlin seen at Carrabus

Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and male Hen Harrier all present at Gruinart"

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Tuesday 17th November

Well,  it has been a pig of a day out here today with a damp, dreich day with the wind blowing as well...  the result being that it has not been much of a day to go out birding in... Although, I did see and hear one of our local Ravens flying off, cronking away to defend its patch against a distant Eagle which was flying along minding its' own business....

Monday 16 November 2020

Monday 16th November

 Bob yesterday had carried out his WeBS count from Port Charlotte back round to Blackrock when he counted the following birds,

" 6 GND, 2 RTD, 7 Cormorant, a Shag, a Glaucous Gull, 3 Gbb Gulls, 110 Herring Gulls, 21 Common Gulls, 2 B h Gulls, 26 Greylags, 14 Mallard, 5 RBM, 26 Oystercatcher, 6 Ringed Plover, 37 Turnstone, a Curlew, 5 Knot and a Grey Wagtail." 

Mark and James had carried out the WeBS count over at Gruinart etc... so here are their birds 

Loch Gruinart







Herring gull


Common gull


G B B gull


R B merg














B H gull










Ringed plover






Great northern diver


Ardnave Loch

Long tailed duck






Little grebe








Little grebe






w. swan
















Golden plover


Sunday 15 November 2020

Sunday 15th november

Peter, this afternoon, had seen a Little Egret seen down in between Smelly corner/ Carnain and along to Whin Park.

Gary today had the following birds seen before the rain came back on AGAIN 

"2 Bullfinch in woods at side of house, 2 Common Crossbill there later. 4 Chough flying by over Dunlossit moorland."

Dan Brown along with the rest of the team left yesterday, so many thanks for your birds folks.. so here are Dan's last comments.. "The reserve at Gruinart  was alive with eagles today on the Flats with at least 6 different WTEs and 3 - 4 Goldies, quite amazing!!!!!    

Dan's final comment says it all 

"Really can't wait to get back here and just sorry we have to leave."



Saturday 14 November 2020

Saturday 14th November

 Sightings through from James...  

"Out and about yesterday:

Greenshank at least 8 on reserve probably more, Gadwall, 2 on Floods

White tailed Eagles 3 great views, Peregrine a pale bird around the Loch, Merlin

Hen Harrier seen on many occasions through the day, all on the reserve...

Good numbers of Gannets and Kittiwakes feeding in the waves at the mouth of the Loch

2 Long tailed Ducks present on Ardnave Loch

Barn Owl seen in fields off the Ardnave road"

Friday 13 November 2020

Friday 13th November

 See this "technology" that we have in place nowadays... the grumpy old me did write an enrty last night but I see that for some reason it did not get published onto the web until around a few moments ago, so here is hoping that you should get another copy of the birds seen on Islay... 2 for the price of 1!!!

Mark Sullivan had sent some birds seen by him yesterday and also today.

Yesterday, we  had 50 Skylarks at Sunderland farm and watched one of the White tailed  Eagles at the Gruinart flats putting up the Barnacle geese.

Today, we had a Woodcock at the Oa, and a male Hen Harrier. There were 15 Great Northern Divers in Claggain 
Bay, with 8 together in a tight flock.

A female Black Redstart at Finlaggan visitor centre at 13.00 today. Also a Peregrine. Both seen by  Keith and Rosie Barnes visiting from Contin nr Inverness.

Thursday 12th November

 This evening, I received through the following e mail from David Natrass....

"Had our 1st trip to Islay, 24th to 31st October (had to leave on 30th though) and visited Jura on 30th too.  Wonderful!!   Will definitely be back.   I'm late in sending this to you as I've struggled with identification but I'm satisfied that I spotted a 1st year Lapland Bunting  when out walking to the east end of Loch Tarbert on 30th October."  

Mark Sullivan had seen a Cackling goose up at Grainel yesterday morning and after that he had seen a Merlin down at Machir Bay.

Today, we had a cracking view of a ringtail Hen Harrier as it got blown along in the wind, across the road and on down towards Loch Gorm...

Dan Brown had braved the wind today again....

Over at Kilnaugton Bay, Dan had seen a juv Iceland Gull on the beach and also using the Cornabus flood. Also 4 Chough on the beach there and 7 GND in the bay. Many Kittiwakes distantly offshore too. A Pair of Golden Eagles over An Carnan too. 


Wednesday 11 November 2020

Wednesday 11th November

Well, the weather forecast proved to be correct today, wet and windy. The wind proved difficult to Calmac who sail our ferry conection, back and forward between Islay and the mainland, the net result was that the ferry did not leave Kennacraig until mid afternoon, offering what we call a splash and dash service... 

Just as well I kept some more of the birds seen yesteday "up my sleeve" so here goes...

Lesley Silcock had been out yesterday...

Gruinart from hides yesterday am Ringtail HH, large nos Duck incl 30+Pintail. Golden Plover, Barwits and Dunlin flocks on Loch Gruinart mud plus 9 Grey Plover. Golden Eagle seen on the way up to Ardnave. 

Dan Brown sent these birds through to me all seen yesterday...

Todd’s Canada Goose still present on the Gruinart flats 

20+ Twite down at Machir Bay,  + 51 Ringed Plovers. 3 Brambling with the finches at Sunderland Farm, WTE on Nave Island, 2 Long tailed Ducks still on Ardnave Loch, Woodcock on the road around Loch Gorm, in middle of day too!

Mark Sullivan sent me the following birds, all seen yesterday...

Golden Eagle on road to Ardnave. Otter on the loch there. Todd's Canada goose on the flats. 2 - 4 Hen Harriers (1 male). From Blackrock we had 50+ Common Scoters and 4 Slavonian Grebes 

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Tuesday 10th November

"Mark, Fran and Matt Sullivan arrived yesterday for a week from Aberdeen. Highlights from the afternoon ferry wesaw a Great Skua and an Arctic Skua.
On Islay, 3 Little Egrets were in the NE corner of Loch Indaal. We also had up to 4 Pinkfeet with Barnacles between Coullabus and Gruinart."

Dave Wood had seen a Woodcock yesterday and 2 Goldcrest down on the RSPB reserve on the Oa. Today, Dave had seen a Todd's Canada goose at Kinnabus today, also a Pinkfoot and a GN Diver on Loch Kinnabus – unusual on freshwater.

Peter had seen the leucistic Gull down on Machir Bay today. 

Mid afternoon, we saw a White tailed Eagle fly overhead down beside Sunderland Farm.. and it kept on flying south out of our sight. 

 Dave Pierce has gone away home again today, so thanks to you and also to your wife for your sightings...Dave did not manage to see the Little Egrets on Islay... "However from the ferry, we saw 2 Little Egrets West Loch Tarbert immediately after Corran Point!!"


Monday 9 November 2020

Monday 9th November

 Dave Pierce sent through the following birds seen by himself when out today...

"Early morning, a pair of adult White-tailed Eagles on one of their favoured rock at Bridgend.

Other raptors today around Gruinart included a Kestrel, a Peregrine and at least one ringtail Hen Harrier. Roosting on the east side of Loch Gruinart at high tide were 5 Greenshanks.

A Tawny Owl was calling at dusk by Bridgend where a little earlier 80 or more Ravens were heading to roost."

This morning around 10 o 'clock, up here at home, we looked out the windows and for some reason or other, all the wee birds were in the air from the feeders and also out from the cover of the few bushes that we have. A few moments later we realised what the problem was, yes, the pesky Sparrowhawk was back here for a visit. It was sitting perched up on top of one of the fence posts,watching all that was going on around it.... Then it flew on its' way, with no prey taken....

Thanks to Gordon and  Pauline Yates who I miscalled them as the Boton birders, when they are from Rochdale....

Sunday 8 November 2020

Sunday 8thNovember

 Last night, Dave Pierce sent through the following e mail to me with the birds seen by him...

"Amongst others on Loch Indaal, 61 Common Scoter and 5 Long-tailed Ducks (4 male, 1 female).

A Golden Eagle (the light was against me but appeared a juvenile) on a deer fence post for a good deal of the morning at Druim na h-Erasaid immediately south of the Gruinart flats. Early afternoon, an adult Goldie circled over the flats & floods causing consternation with the waterfowl and waders. With waders, there were 5 Grey Plover.

 Shortly after the first of 2 Hen Harriers sightings occurred, with a brown quartering low over the floods, whilst a grey was hunting at Ardnave a little later. 

Also at Ardnave were 18 Fieldfares, 20+ Choughs with 2 Long-tailed Ducks on the loch (both females, I'd had a male & female on Wednesday). 

Finally a juvenile White-tailed Eagle late afternoon at Gruinart was a great finish to the day for me, if not for the assembled geese!"

 Dan Brown had seen the following birds when out and about yesterday..  

"A Todd's type (possibly 2) and a Cackling goose on the flats. We also had a Great Spotted Woodpecker clearly migrating west along the flats at Gruinart. It got "stuck" when it got to us and the end of the trees but finally plucked up the courage and headed on West to the farm.

2 Merlins, 2 Peregrines and 2 Hen Harriers here too."

Peter was in touch today, reporting through to tell me that the American Wigeon was seen today at Loch Skerolls, but he also told me that the number of Whoopers present has dropped down to around 50 in total present  there.

The back of lunchtime up here today, and we were well pleased to see a cracking male Hen Harrier out on the wing flying along the bottom of the crag. We now have a smalll resident group of 10 Blackbirds were out on the grass as well as 7 Redwings.

The Bolton Birders also had been seeing 10 Blackbirds this morning down in Port Charlotte and also 5 Blackcaps. Over on Jura, earlier on through the week, they had seen a total of  4 Eagles when over there, their Eagles were 3 WTEs and a Golden Eagle. Down at Curie sands they had seen 12 Choughs rooting around looking for some food.

I was speakng to James earlier on this afternoon, and he was saying about the number of Eagles being seen here on Islay. He also was commenting on the Choughs being seen in different places this Autumn. Today, James had spotted a Pink footed Goose as well as 2 P b Brents amongst the Barnies seen over at Gruinart. In his garden, James has had a regular Goldcrest visiting his garden most days recently. 

Saturday 7 November 2020

Saturday 7th November

 Yesterday was Mike Bell's last full day here on Islay for this visit.... so here are Mike's birds..

Bowmore to Gartbreck: 6 GND, 1 Slav Grebe, 19 Greylag, 109 Greylags, 3,900 Barnies, 26 Wigeon, 85 Teal, 32 Mallard, a male Pintail, 15 Eider, a male Lt Duck, 3 Goldeneye, 25 RBM, 36 Oystercatcer, 52 R Plover, 5 Grey Plover, 245 Lapwing, 51 Knot, 60 Dunlin, 27 Barwits, 64 Curlew, 12 Redshank and also 21 Turnstone 

Gartmain to Bridgend held the following birds: 68 P b Brents, 129 Wigeon, 84 Malard, 4 Goldeneye (incl. a drake), 2 ad WTEs, 157 Oystercatcher, 55 R. Plover, 75 Knot, 290 Dunlin and  960 Golden Plover.

At Gruinart, Mike had 18 Whoopers arriving in, 740 Lapwing and only 200 Golden Plover, a Hen Harrier and also a  Golden Eagle, and a Blackwit.

Loch Gorm a WT  Eagle flushed around about 90 Teal

Mike kept the best birds to the end as he had seen a Short eared Owl being mobbed by 2 corvids in the sky above Kindrochid. A few moments later,Mike watched the S e Owl being caught in flight by a WTE...

Many thanks for your birds Mike, stay safe, hope you had a safe journey home...

Last night I had an email through from Dave Jackson who has been over here for the past 2 weeks, and heads home tomorrow..  "We've had an interesting - and occasionally somewhat feisty couple of weeks, but haven't managed to see anything that has not already been reported on your blog ... although we were fortunate enough to see at some distance what appeared to be an altercation between an immature WTE and an Otter on the flats at Gruinart at 7.45am on Monday!  There was what appeared to be a Grey Phalarope surfing the waves on the beach on Monday afternoon"

Dave Pierce sent this through last night as well...

"Our daily holiday cottage White-tailed Eagle didn't arrive until c0900. Again perched on rocks in Loch Indaal below Bridgend, but also on to the boat wreck briefly.

Down at Kildalton a Redwing flock was in excess of 130. A Sparrowhawk was in the same area. Another Sparrowhawk at Leorin.

On the Oa there were White-fronts at Cornabus c70, plus c120 at Kinnabus mixed with Barnies & Greylags. An adult male Hen Harrier was hunting here. At Upper Killeyan a flock of about 110 Twite were buzzing around.

Finally a Merlin was on a roadside post at Glenegedale by the High Road."

Dan  Brown had seen "2 Blackwits on the Cornabus burn flood, American Wigeon still  present on Loch Skerrols plus possible 1cy female Lesser Scaup though distant, Todd’s Canada with Barnies north of Gruinart farm."

Dave Dinsley who  now works  down on the  Oa for RSPB had a Glaucous Gull seen down on Kilnaghton Bay yesterday

This afternoon, Margaret had seen a male Blackcap out in the garden up here at home, initially on the garden wall before flying into a bush for some cover, great to watch, yes i saw it as well, no need for the bins!!! We also saw 5 Red Deer away out on top of the far crag as well...

Friday 6 November 2020

Friday 6th novembr

Yesterday, Mike Bell had seen the following birds when out...

Gruinart: Hen Harrier and also a Peregrine 

Killinallan: a Jack Snipe, 23 Twite and also 4 Redpolls

Portnahaven: 2WTE flying over the seal colony there

Lossit:  2 Golden Eagles seen

Kilchiaran over the hill past The Gearach: 6 Lt Tits seen in the trees there.

Dave Pierce and his wife had the following birds....

Please find a few of yesterday's sightings.. Started the day off like Wednesday with a White-tailed Eagle from our cottage at Bridgend, though this one was an adult, probably a female. It caught a couple of fish during the time I was around. Again like Wednesday, from the same location I had a raptor at the opposite end of the scale, this time a Merlin which flew low along the shore before alighting for a minute on a pile of kelp. Other birds around the house included c30 Redshanks.

There were around 60 Greenland White-fronts at Cruach with a further 75 feeding with Rock Doves at Ballitarsin. A pair of Bullfinch at Loch Tallant.

Mid afternoon viewing from Buh-an-unillt a Peregrine over Loch Gruinart flushing waders and waterfowl including Bar-tailed Godwits, Turnstones, 2 Greenshank, 7 Sanderling, 1400+Golden Plover & over 70 Pintail. Also 2 Chough present.

Offshore from Bruichladdich a single drake Common Scoter, 3 GN Divers and 2 RTDs, with a Grey Wagtail onshore .

Today, when coming home, we had 4 Red legged Partridge down "The Hedges" at Sunderland Farm and I am led to believe that these were not released birds... Over at Ballinaby, we counted 14Whoopers resting up there. Back at home, Margaret counted 10 Blackbirds out on the grass with 4 Redwings present there as well.

Old chums from Bolton had seen a male and a female Blackcap in a garden down in Port Charlotte today.

Thursday 5 November 2020

Thursday 5th November

Mike Bell's birds seen yesterday by him included the following... 

Ardnave Loch: 2 Little Grebe, 1 Goldeneye, 2 Long tailed Ducks

Traigh Nostaig: 2 Grey Plover, 1 Knot, 25 Sanderling, 6 Purple Sandpiper,  15 Turnstone, 2 Barwits with no Ringed Plovers seen... The wee waders proved to be very flighty with the Turnstone and the Purple Sands flying ovr to Eilean Beag. Also seen were 2WTEs flying South over the headland.

On the East side of Ardnave Point, Mike had a male Snow Bunting, the same bird that he had seen last week in the same location.

Around 10.45 Mike had seen 4 WTEs out on the wing flying over the Killinallan side of the loch.

A count on Loch Indaal from Port Charlotte round to Smelly corner gave Mike these birds...16 RTD, 11 GND, 8 Slavonian Grebes (all near to Blackrock), 11 Scaup, 91 Common Scoter, a flyby of a male Velvet Scoter, 53 Eider, a L t Duck (drake),and also 24 RBM. At Uiskentuie, Mike counted 18 Ringed Plover and also 23 Turnstone.

Finally yesterday, Mike had a juv. female Peregrine perched on a roadside utility pole as he drove along the east side of Loch Gorm.

Dave Pierce sent his birds seen by himself and his wife yesterday....

Observing from the doorstep at Cross House this morning just before 8, a juvenile White-tailed Eagle put up the Barnies from the Bridgend roost.  Moments later it had snatch one, flying with it to the shore to feed on. An hour and half later it was still at the kill. At the opposite end of the raptor scale a Sparrowhawk was over the house.

At Blackrock 10 Scaup were off shore with scattered Redshank on the landward side.

Later near Lochgruinart Cottage an adult male Hen Harrier was mobbed by 2 Sparrowhawks. A couple of hours later a grey harrier was hunting the floods in front of the RSPB hides, possibly the same one.

On Ardnave Loch a pair of Long-tailed Ducks were a pleasant surprise plus a female Goldeneye and a Little Grebe. A juvenile White-tailed Eagle flew from the east side of Loch Gruinart to Ardnave Point.

Returning to Bridgend over 200 Golden Plovers were in the bay.

James today had carried out a count of the following birds on the reserve at Gruinart

Barnacles 16,035,  White fronts 644. Also he counted the Golden Plover flock - 2010

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Wednesday 4th November

Marsali kindly sent me through the reading from her rain gauge over at Mulindry for the  month of October which came to 242mms or 9.68 inches and that was the wettest month so far this year and the wettest October for about 6 years.  Wow, drier than Eric Bignall's tally for October.

Dan Brown yesterday had seen a "juv Glaucous Gull south over the Gruinart flats plus 150 Whoopers. On Monday, he estimated 600-1000 Whoopers arrived as well as many White-fronted Geese."

Yesterday , Mike Bell had seen the following birds when out.. 

"Whooper swans 14 SW Kilchoman  0745 hr, 6 leaving Loch Gorm SW 0755 hr, 29 Gruinart 0810 hr with 14 of these leaving 0815 hr then the rain started. 83 Gruinart at 1510 hr with 54 leaving SW 1520 hr.Loch Gorm 1 imm WTE flying west 0755 hr.

Blackrock 10 Scaup.

Eallabus 60 redwing, 1 treecreeper.

Loch Skerrols, walked round without my telescope and unhelpfully many wigeon on the far shore, far fewer with perhaps c200 and 106 Whoopers including a pair with 6 juvs. Also a dipper at the outlet burn, 1 goldcrest, 6 bullfinch.

Octavulin 6 pinkfeet, 90 fieldfare plus 28 S, redwing 180, chaffinch 75.

Redhouses 40 & 70 redwing S.

Cattadale 90 redwing.

Storakaig gate 1 male hen harrier, 1 carrion crow with hoodies, and also 2 yellowhammer."

Dave Pierce is over for a few days along with his wife, not leading a tour this year arriving yesterday, so here are some of Dave's top birds seen on Tuesday...."A Greenshank & several G N Divers around Kennacraig during our departure from the Mainland. Also maybe of note was a Red Squirrel about a mile north of Tarbert.

Sailing up the Sound of Islay from the ferry we observed an adult White-tailed Eagle standing on Glas Eilean. Another WTE  showed well nearby flying low over the coast of Jura with an adult Golden Eagle soaring close by, whilst a Peregrine crossed over from there to Islay.

Arriving at their cottage near Bridgend the vast avian assemblage included 42 Pale bellied Brent Geese.

Dr Matt Jackson had counted 48 Redwing in his garden today. Also seen today were the folowing  by Gary.... Sub ad WTE on the sand at Bridgend, 1500 Golden Plover on sand, 7 Grey Plover on the merse, Great Spotted Woodpecker heard in woods at Whin Park with 2 Bullfinch also there.

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Tuesday 3rd November

The entry for yesterdays sightings was written on the second of November on the same day, but I forgot to press the corrcet button to publish it, say no more...

Ed Hutchings sent me through the following e mail this morning... "I managed to get off the island yesterday - two days after the group flew out! Several divers in Kilnaughton Bay yesterday morning - 3 Great Northern, 2 Black-throated and a Red-throated. I also saw a distant Cormorant which appeared to have more yellow on the bill and throat than Great Cormorant. I now see that there’s been an influx of Double-crested Cormorant into Irish waters. Worth checking out."

As ever, many thanks to Ed for sending your sightings through to me to use on the blog, the same applies to Teresa Morris as well. I often read the blog for Fair Isle Bird Observatory and see that there had been excitement up there the other day when a couple of Great Tits and a Blue Tit were seen, so what I often say to visitors here on Islay, "different place, different birds". I remember here that a good number of years ago, we had a Magpie out in the garden, which caused a twitch for us local birders...

Mike Bell had made the most of a "better sort of a day yesterday", not just the weather was better, but at least he did manage a day out, and not get too wet!!!!

He had counted various Whoopers which came to 138 leaving and just around 5pm Mike counted a further 27 arriving up at Gruinart... Over at Glenegedale, he had a Peregrine with a Merlin and also a Golden Eagle seen on the RSPB reserve on the Oa. Also there, he counted 350 Twite at Upper Killeyan and a count of a further 70 were seen at Kinnabus. Down at Kilnaugton Bay, he saw 2 RTD, 6 GND, 25 Redwing, a Mistle Thrush and also 3 Chough present there. Down on the croft walk, he counted 9 Redwing  and 8 Fieldfare and also a Hen Harrier. Mid afternoon, he had seen the Todd's Canada Goose amongst the Barnies seen down at the merse at Bridgend. Finally up at Gruiart, he had counted 430 Greenland Whitefronts which all appeared to be resting up, looking like that they had just arrived and looking tired out.

I forgot to mention last night, that I had a Merlin down at the roadend leading up to Rockside. This morning, out in the garden we had 10 Redwing in hopping around, a couple of Mistle Thrushes as well as around 6 "new arrivals" Blackbirds were present here as well.

Monday 2nd November

Some birds seen from Mike Bell yesterday... 

"Coullabus: 25 Redwing.

Near Skerrols House: 4 Pinkfeet in a field on their own.

Lack of wee birds Ballygrant woods to Loch Allan, best sightings 1 Woodcock, 2 Grey Wagtail & 2 Redpoll with 5 Dabchicks on the loch.

Near Keills: 1 male hen harrier

The lack of eagles in the air was particularly disappointing until the Ballinaby pair showed well at 3.45 pm. "

Ed Hutchings sent me through his birds seen yesteday...

"I braved the less severe weather today and saw the following: 2 Chough on the putting green in front of The Machrie at noon, with a further chattering of 3 seen at Machir Bay an hour later. On the way I encountered the large Chaffinch flock between Sunderland Farm and Kilchoman Distillery with at least 1 Brambling still present. After lunch, I drove the northern route around Loch Gorm. Lots of Barnacle, Greylag and White-fronted Geese on the fields south of the road, as well as 9 Fieldfare, a female Kestrel and an adult Whooper Swan. A ringtail Hen Harrier flew over the moorland north of the road. A deceit of 70 Lapwing was on the fields around Sanaigmore. A Raven was in the small glen north of Port Wemyss mid-afternoon."

Gary yesterday had seen the followings birds seen when out and about...

"Male Hen Harrier over moorland at airport, WTE over fields above the Gaelic collage, Adult Golden Eagle at Tallant plantation on high road, Male Sparrowhawk on Cruach Rd, Male Hen Harrier there also. Sub. ad WTE at Finlaggan, Male Hen Harrier at Aluchga"

Yesterday was Teresa Morris's final day of this trip.... "sadly but been a fantastic day for the birds. This morning over Craigens Cottage was the male and female Hen Harrier and Golden Eagle ! A walk to the more sheltered east side of Ardnave this afternoon was superb with great views of 7 Snow Buntings, 4 Ring Plovers, 10 Turnstones. Several Barnacle Geese were still flying in from the Atlantic battling the gales. Back on the flats a large flock of Golden Plover approx 500. 

A few days ago worth noting I saw a lone Bridled Gulliemot at Ardnave point. "

Nick Gates sent this list of the pick ofthe birds seen by him  yesterday...  

A few more sightings from today: just outside Bowmore today I had an adult male goldeneye, 3 GND (summer plumage), a Tystie (winter plumage), Eiders, Scaup and RBM. 

 Dan Brown had ben out and about over the last couple of days...

"We did a little storm watching at Portnahaven on Saturday - very impressive and we kept our fingers crossed for the young seal pups on the island getting battered by huge waves. Not a lot to report bird-wise though.  

I was on the flats all day yesterday; my sightings were: A Curlew Sandpiper with Dunlin in the golden plover flock, a Brambling over, Todd’s Canada Goose with the Barnies, and on the floods - 6 Greenshank and a pair of Gadwall. Impressive numbers of waders roosting on the floods this evening with the very high tide inc 15+ Grey Plover. Birds everywhere."

Some sightings through from Gary today:

In at Loch Skerrols, the Amercan Wigeon was still present, he also had a Golden Eagle and also a WTE there as well, and also he had at least 80 Whoopers, 2 Goldeneye and 50+ Tufted Duck. When parked up in the lay by at Gartmain, he had a continual stream of  573 Whoopers flying overhead, all flying south. After that wee bit of exitement, 12 Yellowhammers along the road towards the Gaelic College.   Further exitement just in on from Gary, late Monday afternoon, to say that he had seen a COMMON CRANE flying overhead and then when speaking to me , he saw a probable MARSH HARRIER, nice ones Gary!!!

Sunday 1 November 2020

Sunday 1st November

 Some sightings seen by Mike Bell yesterday..

"Definitely the wildest day I've ever had here. Thought I'd send this morning's sightings in case  the  power  goes off again...... 

An early trip into Bowmore  Co-op in case they sold out of bread etc. Shelter was very relative. I could only see 58 Pbb Geese today. The Long tailed Duck is still by the pier, at least 18 Common Scoter in the waves plus 31 RBM and 10 Scaup below the power station. 

A good hour and a half at Gruinart with 97 Pintail and 35 Shoveler today. Managed to get a good look through c900 Teal from the south hide but no GWT. Also 1 Grey Plover and 1 Blackwit in the field with the Curlews by the north hide. An adult Golden Eagle came through and a Hen Harrier which was almost blown to standstill."

Ed Hutchings who is leading the group over from Wildlife Worldwide sent through the birds seen by them yesterday..  "A filthy day weatherwise but I braved it and saw a few birds: 1,300 Barnacle Geese on fields near The Machrie Hotel mid-morning. Drake Long-tailed Duck in the harbour and an adult Glaucous Gull near the breakwater late morning. 9 Turnstone feeding near Machir Bay car park at lunchtime. GND feeding just off Port Charlotte Hotel early afternoon – this is a species that isn’t fazed by bad weather!  Half a dozen Gannet flying between Port Wemyss and Orsay mid-afternoon. 8 Grey Seals playing in the surf too."

James's top birds today seen by him on the reserve at Gruinart included a total of 15 Grey Plover. Also seen today by John Aitchison were 4 W T Eagles, with Dan Brown seeing 2 Greenshank back on late Friday afternoon.

The total rainfall that fell in our rain guage in October  came to 9.1", only to be beaten by Eric Bignall's rain coming to only 10.25", the highest monthly figure that Eric has ever had since he started to record this statistic...